Renton event introduces 170 girls, women to flight

December 9, 2010

Pilots at Renton Municipal Airport in Washington state took 170 women and girls on introductory flights Dec. 5, and the airport is now recognized by the Centennial of Licensed Women Pilots for introducing the most girls and women to flying in one day.

Ten pilots flying seven fixed-gear airplanes, two floatplanes, and one helicopter, assisted by 10 ground support volunteers, introduced the nonpilots to flying as part of the centennial campaign, the Centennial of Licensed Women Pilots announced. The event advanced Renton in the competition for the title of “ Most Female Pilot Friendly Airport Worldwide,” for the most nonpilot girls and women introduced to aviation in 2010—the centennial of the first certificated female pilot, Raymonde de Laroche of France.

“Never in my life have I experienced so much emotion, and pure joy by so many, that's lasted for days— and inspired so many,” wrote Renton event organizer Karlene Petitt in her blog. Petitt has also offered $100 for a drawing to encourage pilots to take a woman flying before the end of the year.

Austin Watson, director of the Boeing Employee Flying Association (BEFA), brought his association’s support; and female commercial and airline pilots and an air traffic controller were on hand to answer questions at the event, which also provided hot chocolate, coffee, cookies, and a birthday cake, the Centennial of Licensed Women Pilots said. The airport broke the previous record held by Kpong Field Airport in Ghana, which conducted 97 introductory flights of girls and women in one day, the campaign said.

The Centennial of Women Pilots campaign has a goal of introducing a record number of girls and women to flying in 2010 “as a salute to the women pilots of the last hundred years as well as an encouragement to girls and woman everywhere to discover the joys of flying.”